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The Black Dahlia Murder, Benighted, Nihility @ The Talking Heads, Southampton (UK)

THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER / Benighted / Nihility
in Friday, 15 January 2016 at The Talking Heads
by Tim Bolitho-Jones


*Photography: Chris Green

Death Metal is very much the order of the day at Southampton’s Talking Heads tonight. Hot on the heels of their ace seventh album, the ten legged hate machine known as THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER are in town to play this intimate little venue and they've brought a few like-minded friends along with them. For over three hours, this cold January night is torn asunder by thundering blast beats and guitar riffs spawned in the guts of hell itself. If you’re into a good sing-song you’ve got no chance, but this is an invigorating slice of malevolence and the enthusiastic crowd, rabid bands and fearsome music make it a night to remember.

Kicking things off are NIHILITY who give us perhaps the most British moment of the evening when they pause to retrieve a bottle of Fanta from the floor and return it to the punter who dropped it. They’re a genial bunch and it’s obvious they can’t believe their luck at bagging this support slot, so when a significant part of the crowd starts headbanging almost immediately it’s genuinely uplifting. They play Death Metal with a clear Hardcore influence and seem to have taken a few hints from all those bands who appeared at the turn of the millennium sounding like AT THE GATES. It’s brutal, has masses of chug and the closing breakdown is deeply satisfying indeed.

French veterans BENIGHTED next have a pretty good stab at stealing the entire show. Frontman Julien Truchan is a natural, bristling with confidence and capable of whipping up pits just by nodding at the right time. “Let The Blood Spill Between My Broken Teeth” is the closest they get to an anthem and sees the floor descend into a whirlwind of chaos, while “Slut” is as vicious as Death Metal can get. By the close of their forty minute set the adrenaline levels have spiked and it’s a brave band indeed who follows that.

There’s no dip in the energy when the headliners take the stage though and launch into “Receipt,” the opening track off “Abysmal.” From there, the impressively lengthy set encompasses their entire discography, from the tortured violence of “What A Horrible Night To Have A Curse” to old school numbers like “Elder Misanthropy” and newer ones like the high speed aggression of “Threat Level Number 3.” Aside from the occasional moment where the mic levels drop there’s no change in the intensity and they sound just as determined as their support bands.

The crowd meanwhile lap up every minute and it doesn’t take long for The Talking Heads to become a churning mass. The stage is relatively low and the nutters at the front leap off it at every opportunity, one guy diving so much we lost count. Trevor Strnad leads the assembled throng like a demonic ringmaster while drummer Adam Cassidy hits the room with such fearsome percussion it’s a miracle the roof didn’t cave in. “Death Mask Divine” and “I Return” end the night on a twisted, blood spitting high and even if everyone’s a bit worn out by the finish, it’s a blinder of a show and walking home in the biting cold with the moon hanging low overhead only adds to the atmosphere. There’s not a single chorus to latch onto but when it comes to straight up, Death Metal violence THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER are tough ones to beat.


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